It became a worldwide centre of pilgrimage, and later in the Renaissance, as the city became a major European capital of the arts, education, philosophy and trade, it became an important crossroads for bankers, artists and other people in general. Later, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the city was one of the centres of the Grand Tour,when wealthy, young English aristocrats visited the city to learn about ancient Roman culture, art, philosophy and architecture.
Towards the 1840s, the first sort of mass-tourism began, and Rome became an extremely popular attraction for not only British people, but for people of all around the world. The number of tourists, however, fell dramatically towards the 1870s, when Rome became a battle-ground for revolutionaries and one of the homes of the Risorgimento, and remained like that except for a brief period in the 1920s. However, since Rome escaped World War II relatively unscathed, unlike Milan or Naples, it became an extremely popular and fashionable city in the 1950s and 60s, when numerous glamorous and exciting films, such as Roman Holiday, Ben Hur and more famously La Dolce Vita were filmed in the city. Numerous stars, actors, actresses and celebrities, such as Federico Fellini, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Anita Ekberg, lived or stayed in Rome, especially along its elegant and luxurious Via Veneto, where most of the chicest and grandest of all Roman hotels were and still are found. After a brief fall in the number of tourists in the 1980s (due to some terrorist activity led by the Red Brigades and political scandals), the city has now become one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions.